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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 27:35-38 And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched Him there; and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. (Also See Mark 15:24-28; Luke 23:33-34, 38; John 19:18-24)

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee (John 17:1). The hour had come, and they crucified Him! It is a historical fact that Jews never crucified other Jews, and it is equally true that Romans never crucified other Romans. Only Romans were allowed to crucify Jews. It could only be the extreme hatred by the Jewish leaders for Jesus that would cause them to demand the Roman governors to execute the most dreadful, shameful death ever known to mankind.

To be crucified means to be put to death on a cross. Historical scholars tell us that crucifixion began with the cross being laid on the ground, the condemned victim was stripped of their clothing, their hands were nailed to the cross bar, and the feet were attached to the upright bar by nails or thongs. The cross, with the victim firmly attached to it, was raised and let to fall in a hole that had been dug in the ground for that purpose. The crucified person was allowed to hang in this painful position until bodily shock, exhaustion, hunger, and thirst resulted in their death. This was the most disgraceful punishment carried out by the Roman government, and was generally reserved for rebellious slaves and the most notorious, habitually brutal criminals. This was the death that was riotously demanded by the Jewish religious leaders and consented to by the Roman magistrates. The hour had come; such was the lot of Jesus!

As further humiliation of Jesus before all that had gathered to witness His death, the soldiers performing the execution, divided up the clothing of Jesus among them, and cast lots upon My vesture. Referring to the gospel according to John, there were four soldiers, each taking a portion of the clothing. However, the vesture, or coat, being sewn into one piece, could not be divided. Therefore the soldiers did cast lots, much like a lottery, to determine which soldier would receive this raiment taken from Jesus (See John 19:23-24). In doing so, the prophecy found in a Psalm of David was fulfilled: They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture (Ps. 22:18). After crucifying Jesus and parting His garments, Matthew says that the soldiers sat down and watched Him; they were to be watch guards for the complete time Jesus was nailed and suspended on the cross on Mount Calvary.

It was now the third hour of the day when they crucified Him. And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left (Mark 15:25, 27). This also fulfilled a prophecy found in Isaiah 53:12, which says that He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

In all four gospels we find that an accusing title was written for Jesus and displayed for all passers by to see: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Matt. 27:37); THE KING OF THE JEWS (Mark 15:26); THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Luke 23:38); JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:19). John elaborates on this more that the other writers. He tells us that this title was written by Pilate, was put on the cross, was read by many of the Jews, and was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin (John 19:19-20). Everyone in the known world could have read these inscriptions; some would read them with scornful derision, while others would accept Jesus as their King and understand them to be the truth of God, His Heavenly Father. Certainly the Jewish leaders did not accept Jesus as their King, and even pleaded with Pilate to change the title to read that Jesus said, I am King of the Jews. There seems to be little doubt that Pilate was still troubled about yielding to the desire of the Jewish leaders and pronouncing Jesus' death sentence by crucifixion. Therefore, He denied their request by telling them, What I have written I have written (John 19:21-22). With the majority of the Jews rejecting Jesus as their King, Pilate, a Gentile, conceded Him to be King: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS!